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NFL Season Preview: NFC East

Sports Mole previews the 2014 season for the teams of the NFC East.

The Philadelphia Eagles bounced back from a disappointing 2012 season to claim the NFC East title under first-year head coach Chip Kelly.

The competition in the division didn't prove to be that difficult as the Dallas Cowboys finished with an 8-8 record for the third straight season.

Meanwhile, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins struggled immensely and were never in the playoff picture.

Here, Sports Mole breaks down the prospects for the NFC East teams.

Philadelphia Eagles

Zach Ertz #86 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates his touchdown with teammate James Casey #85 in the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals on December 1, 2013© Getty Images

Last season: 10-6 – Wildcard-round loss

Notable ins: Darren Sproles (New Orleans Saints), Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans Saints), Nolan Carroll (Miami Dolphins), Marcus Smith (Draft), Jordan Matthews (Draft)

Notable outs: DeSean Jackson (Washington Redskins), Michael Vick (New York Jets), Phillip Hunt (Indianapolis Colts), Kurt Coleman (Minnesota Vikings)

Outlook: The Eagles had success in the first year under head coach Chip Kelly and the new methods he brought to the club. Philadelphia's quick-fire offense proved to be one of the best in the NFL and their injuries were kept to a minimum, which helped them reach the post-season. The playoffs proved to be step too far for the club in 2013 as the New Orleans Saints secured the win at Lincoln Financial Field.

Philadelphia decided to release receiver DeSean Jackson and replace him in the Draft with Jordan Matthews. Darren Sproles was also added to the offense to make a threatening backfield even better. LeSean McCoy could be in line to challenge for the MVP award if he manages to maintain his form from the 2013 campaign, while Nick Foles has proven to be a steady performer at the quarterback position and a good fit in Kelly's offense.

Defense is a concern for the Eagles especially their secondary, which could hold them back from making a charge to the Super Bowl.

Prediction: 11-5 – Divisional-round loss – The Eagles will go one better than last season, but there are stronger teams in the NFC that will put them to the sword in 2014. However, Chip Kelly's side are not far from becoming a real contender for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

New York Giants

Quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants is hit as he throws a pass in the 1st half against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2013© Getty Images

Last season: 7-9 – Missed playoffs

Notable ins: Walter Thurmond (Seattle Seahawks), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver Broncos), Charles Brown (New Orleans Saints), Robert Ayers (Denver Broncos), Odell Beckham (Draft)

Notable outs: David Wilson (Retired), Chris Snee (Retired), Justin Tuck (Oakland Raiders), Linval Joseph (Minnesota Vikings), Hakeem Nicks (Indianapolis Colts)

Outlook: The Giants can't get off to as poor a start this season as they did in the last when they lost six games on the spin. Eli Manning endured one of his worst campaigns of his career as he threw 27 interceptions and just 18 touchdowns. The club have brought a new offensive coordinator in to rectify that problem, but it won't be plain sailing for the Giants.

Their secondary has improved a lot with additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, but the pass-rush is a huge concern as eyes will be focused on Jason Pierre-Paul to see if he can rediscover his form of 2011 when he notched 16.5 sacks.

Prediction: 8-8 – Miss playoffs - The Giants will improve a little bit on the last campaign, but they are lacking in far too many areas to push for the playoffs even if Manning manages to find his groove again.

Dallas Cowboys

Wide receiver Dwayne Harris of the Dallas Cowboys is congratulated by teammates after scoring a touchdown late in the 4th quarter during the game against the Minnesota Vikings on November 3, 2013© Getty Images

Last season: 8-8 – Missed playoffs

Notable ins: Zack Martin (Draft), Henry Melton (Chicago Bears), Rolando McClain (Baltimore Ravens), Lavar Edwards (Tennessee Titans)

Notable outs: Miles Austin (Cleveland Browns), Kyle Orton (Buffalo Bills), DeMarcus Ware (Denver Broncos), Jason Hatcher (Washington Redskins)

Outlook: The Cowboys are looking to avoid missing out on the playoffs in the last game for the third straight season, and they could do that this year because they could be out of the running well before the end of the campaign. Jason Garrett's side have a lost a plethora of key players on the defensive side of the ball due to free agency and injury.

Linebacker Sean Lee has been ruled out of the campaign with a torn ACL, while top pass-rushers DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher left the club for pastures new. Their defense is low on quality and depth in several key areas and that will increase the pressure on quarterback Tony Romo and his offense.

Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant can paper over some of the cracks in the roster, but the task this year looks too great as tight end Jason Witten is getting long in the tooth, while third wideout Miles Austin left to join the Cleveland Browns.

Prediction: 7-9 – Miss playoffs – The Cowboys will win some games on their schedule due to the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball, but their defensive frailties will make it impossible to have a run at the playoffs.

Washington Redskins

Darrel Young of the Washington Redskins scores the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the San Diego Chargers during an NFL game at FedExField on November 3, 2013© Getty Images

Last season: 3-13 – Missed playoffs

Notable ins: DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles), Andre Roberts (Arizona Cardinals), Jason Hatcher (Dallas Cowboys), Ryan Clark (Pittsburgh Steelers), Trent Murphy (Draft)

Notable outs: London Fletcher (Retired), Will Montgomery (Denver Broncos), Josh Morgan (Chicago Bears), JD Walton (New York Giants)

Outlook: The Washington Redskins fell apart last season as there appeared to be resentment between quarterback Robert Griffin III and head coach Mike Shanahan, which cost Shanahan his job. The quarterback was never fully fit after recovering from a torn ACL he sustained in the 2012 season and failed to get into a rhythm during the campaign. Griffin will look to bounce back with new head coach Jay Gruden, who got the best out of Andy Dalton at the Cincinnati Bengals when he served as the club's offensive coordinator.

Gruden has a big job on his hands and a lot will rest on his offense as the defense looks suspect, especially in the secondary. If Griffin can get back to the form of his rookie season and build a rapport with new wide receiver DeSean Jackson along with his other weapons, then there could be hope for the Redskins.

Prediction: 5-11 – Miss playoffs – Despite the hope kindled by new signings and the new head coach, there is still a lot to overcome for the Redskins and the rebuilding job will take more than one season to come to fruition. The club will need to invest in free agency next year and draft well to get back on track.

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Dallas' Dez Bryant dives in to score against Kansas City on September 15, 2013
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